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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)

by Maya Angelou

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Maya Angelou's Autobiographies (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
11,209175408 (3.99)1 / 486
Author's memoir of growing up black in the 1930's and 1940's.
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English (174)  French (1)  All languages (175)
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
I am sure that better reviewers than me have waxed poetically about the greatness that is this memoir by Maya Angelou.

I am just going to be one more person that says that this book hands down is fantastic.

There were times that I cried while reading and times that I smiled. I am very happy that I got around to reading this as part of my "Books Every African American Should Read" list.

Maya Angelou was not just a poet and writer. She was an artist with words. Just the way that she write things evokes memories of a place and time I have never been to in my life.

The Black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same time that she is caught in the tripartite crossfire of masculine prejudice, white illogical hate and Black lack of power.

The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence.

Words mean more than what is set down on paper.

It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.

At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.


The things that Ms. Angelou went through while being shuttled back and forth between her paternal grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas to her mother's family in Missouri and then California as a child until she was 17 I think would have broken anyone. Instead her story is ultimately one of triumph.

I only read excerpts from this book in English class as a teenager. I am sadly disappointed that based on my many of the reviews for this book and also what I have read elsewhere many parents and some schools appear to have this book on a banned list because of it's frank discussion of events that happened to Ms. Angelou as a child.

Please note that this book does discuss molestation and rape. There is also plenty of racism in this book which should not surprise people since Ms. Angelou grew up during the 1930s. I think reading a book like this which ultimately showcases how a woman grew up and what kept her pushing for more is something that everyone should read. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
I really enjoyed this book! Here's a link to my full review: https://allkindsofbookery.wordpress.com/2017/03/03/book-review-i-know-why-the-ca... ( )
  hopebarton2014 | Jun 15, 2020 |
wow, my raw emotions took over. ( )
  rosies | Apr 25, 2020 |
This book was mentioned on Episode 1 of Checking Out. Listen here! ( )
  rachelreading | Apr 20, 2020 |
Whilst I have a wide range of reading tastes, this is one that I would not normally consider. It is an autobiography of Maya, a black girl growing up in the depression era of America with the dreadful prejudice that was considered normal at that time in America.

She is brought up mainly by her grandmother, and gets to meet her mum properly around the age of eight. She suffers from beatings for the slightest infraction, is raped as a child and understandably is scared because of these things.

And yet her character is tenacious, she is unwilling to give up, seeking to be the first black employee on the San Francisco streetcars, which she achieves, and her life which had been full of despair has hope at last.

Angelou writes about issues that are grim; the poverty, the abuse, the culture at the time, and she does it with an eloquence that gives you faith in humanity. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maya Angelouprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rutten, KathleenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to my son
Guy Johnson,
and all the strong black birds of promise who defy the odds and gods and sing their songs
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What you looking at me for?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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UNKNOWN IF ABRIDGED (condensed/shortened) or UNABRIDGED (complete book)
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Book description
James Baldwin Writes:

This testimony from a Black sister marks the beginning of a new era in the minds and hearts and lives of all Black men and women...
I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity. I have no words for this achievement, but I know that not since the days of my childhood, when the people in books were more real than the people one saw every day, have I found myself so moved ...
her portrait is a Biblical study of life in the midst of death."

The Moving and Beautiful autobiography of a talented black woman. She continues her story in gather together in GATHER TOGETHER IN MY NAME, SINGIN' AND SWINGIN' AND GETTIN' MERRY LIKE CHRISTMAS and THE HEART OF A WOMAN.
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